The Examiner

‘The Wiz’ Eases on Down to Pleasantville This Weekend

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By Gina Valentino

Denis Zepeda, who plays the Scarecrow, is part of the 20-member cast in Little Radical Theatrics' production of "The Wiz" playing this weekend in Pleasantville.
Denis Zepeda, who plays the Scarecrow, is part of the 20-member cast in Little Radical Theatrics’ production of “The Wiz” playing this weekend in Pleasantville.

Little Radical Theatrics will present a new rendition of the popular musical “The Wiz” starting Friday night with the first of three performances in Pleasantville.

Based on the classic novel by William F. Brown, the production is directed by Michael Mirra with musical direction by Brett Pontecorvo and choreography by Erika Louiz.

Similar to the original, a tornado carries Dorothy from Kansas to Oz. While traveling down the Yellow Brick Road, she meets some companions along the way: Scarecrow, who lacks direction, an uptight Tin Man and a Lion who was seeking psychiatric help from an owl but has lost faith. These four characters join together in the exciting journey to meet The Wiz.

With a musical score that includes rock, gospel and soul, the Little Radical Theatrics production is contemporary, modern and “relatable,” said Stephanie Lourenco, who will play Addaperle.

The diverse 20-member cast, with actors ranging in age from seven to 50 years old and from throughout Westchester and the tri-state area, is lively and entertaining. Some fresh faces join actors who have previously performed in Little Radical Theatrics productions, a local nonprofit theater company formed by Fatima Viegas in 2009.

John Hartigan, who plays the Lion, said he was “floored by the talent,” in the cast.

“The more time I spend with the cast, the more excited I get,” Hartigan said.

Maria C. Perry (Dorothy) said she plans to “knock it out of the ballpark” and show the audience “a character who is alive, and although Dorothy is young, she is determined and courageous.”

Denis Zepeda (Scarecrow) admitted this is the most physically demanding role he has played.

After weeks of intense rehearsals, Mirra said he’s expecting a great production starting Friday night.

“It has been a wonderful trip to Emerald City,” he enthusiastically said.

Viegas said she created Little Radical Theatrics as an outlet to help actors of all ages fulfill their dreams. “The Wiz” is its 11th production.

The cast also includes Alejandro Funes (Tin Man); John Hartigan (Lion); Markiss Robert (The Wiz); Sabrina Kershaw (Evilene); Ayanna Williams (Aunt Em/Glinda); Matthew Walters-Bowens (Gatekeeper/Lord High Underling/Uncle Henry) and Justin Santore (Head Flying Monkey). Hitomi Musa, Raquel DeSouza, Rhaven McIver and Melissa Pellarano are The Yellow Brick Road and Madison Pyles, Isaiah Negron, Zaida Rio Polanco, Maya Cruz and Anaiya Baptista are The Munchkins.

“The Wiz” will be performed live on stage on Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 20 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at the Rosenthal JCC, located at 600 Bear Ridge Rd. in Pleasantville. Tickets are $25; $20 for students, seniors and children. For tickets, call 1-800-838-3006 or purchase online at To reserve tickets, e-mail little




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